It’s no secret that Facebook gathers our personal info for its own purposes. However, a new wave of reports this week have called into question just how much of our data the company has — and how it uses that data to target advertising at us. Thankfully, there’s an easy way to find out exactly what Facebook knows about you.
It only takes three steps. Click “Settings,” “General Account Settings,” and then “Download a Copy of your Facebook Data.” Next, you are sent to a screen where you click “Start My Archive.” This will run a brief security scan, and then you’ll be able to download your whole file. You can also see the info Facebook gathers about you on a daily basis in your Activity Log.
Because Facebook is “free” to use, many users don’t think about the true cost of the service.
“Facebook stores more information on users than they know, it is in the ad business,” Kevin Curran, a professor of cybersecurity at Ulster University, told Newsweek. “Anyone would agree when saying Facebook stores too much information, yet we still use the service. It is free, but at least we know why it is free—we pay with our information… Everyone should download their social network data and trawl through it.”
While seeing your Facebook file might not stop you from using the site, it just might give you pause the next time you’re thinking about sharing something personal. And that’s a valuable realization to have.